Tips on how to make
better nitrogen beers
By Scott James
Infusing beer with nitrogen has become popular in the
industry over the last couple of years, but it is a difficult procedure
and often leaves brewers and drinkers alike feeling frustrated. I will
share a few tips here that I learned through trial and error and that
have been effective for me in the past.
The original intention of adding nitrogen to beer and
serving it through a Guinness-style faucet was to mimic the effect of
the beer engine. The gas used to displace Guinness is 70 percent
nitrogen and 30 percent carbon dioxide, which is an approximation of
what is in air.
Infusing beer with nitrogen using equipment that was
not designed for nitrogen service, however, is difficult. Ideally, beer
displaced by a nitrogen mix should be displaced at 35 PSI. This is
virtually impossible to do in tanks that were designed to operate at 15
PSI. At 15 PSI the carbon dioxide is forced into solution but the
nitrogen is not. The result is a beer that becomes progressively more
foamy as you pour it, being entirely unservable at the bottom of the
tank. My solution is to infuse and displace the beer with pure nitrogen.
One method is to recirculate the beer through the
spray ball while infusing it with nitrogen. This method works, but the
beer usually foams up and makes a mess inside and sometimes outside the
Another method requires some additional equipment
food-grade nitrogen, a beverage nitrogen regulator, and a stainless
steel sintered stone.
Good yeast combinations
To get the most from your nitrogen
beers, we suggest the following yeasts:
WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast: This strain is great for
making a dry Irish stout, an authentic tasting beer thats great on
nitrogen. The yeast originates from one of the oldest stout producing
regions in the world.
WLP023 Burton Ale Yeast. This yeast has many complex
flavors that come through very well on nitrogen beers. The yeast is from
the brewing town of Burton and is packed with character. The creamy effect
of the nitrogen allows more of this distinct character to hit the palet.
WLP005 British Ale Yeast. This yeast will help you
make real-style ale beers. It has that English ale fruitiness that,
combined with nitrogen, provides authentic, complex flavors.